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  • Writer's pictureShaeden Berry

“I Don’t Want Children” Is Reason Enough

I went to a poetry slam last night.

The first six poets on stage were women.

And they were angry.

Frustration and anguish poured from every syllable that left their mouths.

It was like a dam bursting.

Across six women, although phrased differently each time, emerging from different circumstances, came the same refrain; my body is not a vessel, my body belongs to me, my body is my own.

It was like an echo, one after the other, and in the audience, we felt it, we repeated it back, we nodded our heads.

We understood because all women and people with uteruses do.

It wasn’t surprising to me that the rage was palpable that night.

The news had just broken that in America, the Supreme Court had voted to overturn the landmark ruling Roe V Wade.

The ruling that said that women had a constitutional right to have an abortion.

The direct attack on human rights was undeniable.

Already eight states within the US have legislated to ban abortion entirely, with an additional 13 states likely to follow suit.

The devastating consequences that this overturning will have on the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the people of colour and the queer community within the US are horrifying to comprehend.

The outcry has been swift across my timelines.

Like the women of the poetry slam, people are shouting and raging.

They are rallying to protest the decision, to share information about accessible abortions, to offer support, comfort, understanding.

I am there shouting with them.

Shaeden Berry is not ashamed to be child-free by choice. Source: Provided

I don’t want to have children.

It’s a decision that I don’t ever recall actually making; it was more like just a fact I always knew – the sky was blue, Lord of the Rings was the best movie ever and I was never going to have children.

The thought of having a child never crossed my mind at all.

I’ve been heartened by the increase in conversations regarding being child-free by choice.

It felt like it was a concept that was finally gaining some airtime and the more that people talk about it, the more acceptable the notion becomes.

This means the less I must endure comments like “you’ll change your mind” or “you’ll never know true love then” or, my personal favourite, “have fun dying alone then.”

And the less I might have to answer the question “why?” with some elaborate excuse because saying, “I just don’t want to” never seems to satisfy people fully.

Contraceptives give me anxiety.

The Implanon heightened my depression, I’m not game enough to get an IUD and so the Pill has always been my go-to.

However, I’m notoriously forgetful and occasionally slip-up and that means that each time I’m due for more period I give myself a panic-attack if it’s a day late.

In the back of my mind, however, I have always thought; I am lucky enough to live in Australia and if the worst happens, abortions are accessible to me.

I have no doubt if I were to have to have an abortion, if my pill failed me and something happened, it would save my life.

Clementine Ford, the Australian feminist activist, spoke on this following the Roe V Wade decision.

She spoke about how abortions save lives.

But what she spoke about is how they save lives in a non-traditional sense.

A lot of discourse regarding abortions focuses on the need for abortions in non-viable pregnancies, or pregnancies that pose a threat to the mother’s life.

People speak on victims of rape and incest and the impact of having to carry the baby to term would have.

These are, indeed, extremely important, and valid points - I’m not arguing this.

But reliance on these arguments can be damaging.

These arguments still say that for an abortion to be accessible to a woman – for her to be able to make a decision regarding her body – somebody needs to have violated it beforehand.

We cannot make the only argument in support of abortion be dependent on a woman’s trauma.

What Clementine Ford touched upon was how abortions save lives in the simple sense of someone who doesn’t want a child, not being forced to have one.

That’s how having an abortion would save my life – it would save my life because I wouldn’t be forced to put my body through something that I simply don’t want to do.

It would save my life because I have plans and dreams and goals of my life that don’t involve being pregnant.

It would save my life because I am a long-term eating disorder sufferer and I know my changing body would be impossible for me to handle.

It would save my life because it would mean I have autonomy over my own goddamn body.

I’ve been questioned why Roe v Wade upsets myself and other Australian women so much.

We’re not in America, after all.

Aside from the fact that I’m a human being and have compassion about other people in the world (which seems like an obvious reason to care) it is extremely ignorant to pretend that what happens in the US doesn’t have wider ramifications.

Australia is notorious for looking to the US as an example – you only have to see the parallels between the burgeoning transphobic rhetoric in Australian politics and that in the US to see proof of this.

Whilst it’s unlikely anything like Roe V Wade might happen in Australia, the ruling gives momentum to the anti-choice movement within Australia.

It gives them hope and traction and attention and sets a dangerous precedent for them to aim for.

I know I am writing all this from a place of privilege – I’m in Australia, I’m white, I’m financially stable.

I am undeniably lucky.

And it is because of that, that I need to be one of the ones who is giving the most support, attending the rallies and putting in the work – because there are not as lucky.

And this is about them and fighting for them.

It all comes down to choice, doesn’t it?

And right now, I choose to fight.

I hope you do too.



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